BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Our Board is made up of industry professionals who have come together with a combined interest in creating a useful standards body for the polar tourism and expedition cruise industry. These people bring a range of different skills and qualifications with them and they have all been tested under a variety of national and international examining bodies and thus believe in the value of standards of operation defining a profession and professional organization.

All Board members work in the polar industry and must abide by the PTGA Conflict of Interest protocol (available for any member to see).

COLBY BROKVIST

CHAIR OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
SENIOR POLAR GUIDE

Colby brings a variety of experience to the board, from small business operations and strategic planning, to field work as an Expedition Leader and Program Manager. He is excited about the future of PTGA, what it offers guides, and its potential for development right now.

Colby has led expeditions in the polar regions since 2006, the brunt of that experience executing small-group departures from small yachts in Antarctica and remote camps in Canada and Greenland. He also moonlights aboard traditional expedition cruise ships in the Antarctic.

When not working as an EL in the field, Colby is the EL Manager for Natural Habitat Adventure’s polar bear expeditions in Canada and is a lead instructor and developer of guide training programs for the company.

Formerly, Colby spent six years as the General Manager of Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides, where he oversaw daily operations, guide training curriculums, program development, risk management planning, and marketing initiatives.

  • Senior Polar Guide
  • BS Degree in Geologic and Environmental Sciences, Susquehanna University
  • Wilderness First Responder, NOLS Wilderness Medicine
  • Coxswain Certification, Milpro Zodiac
  • Firearm Safety & Handling, NRA
  • Certified Photo Instructor, National Geographic / Lindblad

HEATHER THORKELSON

VICE-CHAIR OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
TREASURER, POLAR GUIDE

Heather is a Canadian dual entrepreneur running a business strategy company from her home in Sweden, and a niche polar expedition company in the Arctic.

Prior to starting her first company a decade ago, Heather had lived and worked all over the world doing everything from running an English department in a private school in Mexico with 15 staff to building a robust social media platform from the bottom up for an HIV non-profit in South Africa. She also spent 7 years in ‘corporate’ working for pharmaceutical company in key accounts before following her entrepreneurial heart and ditching the 9-to-5 for good in 2010.

Working as a guide in the polar regions since 2013 on ships ranging from 12 – 200 passengers in size, Heather’s focus has always been on how guides can facilitate a transformative travel experience for their guests. She developed the Passenger Service Manager role for Polar Latitudes from scratch, which then became the industry-leading standard that inspired other companies to follow suit. Her passion for unique travel experiences led her to open a boutique polar expedition company in 2015 with her husband and his twin brother – both polar expedition leaders – aptly titled Twin Tracks Expeditions.

Heather is passionate about the concept of 360° guiding, meaning an equal focus on the development of the soft skills required for excellence in professional experience delivery, on top of the traditional technical guiding skills required. She is excited about what the future holds for the PTGA as an organization by the guides, for the guides.

  • Polar Guide
  • STCW 95 Basic Training
  • Standard/Emergency First Aid - Level C - CPR/AED
  • RYA Powerboat Level 2
  • Firearms License
  • PADI
  • Sea Kayak Certification
  • Co-active Coaching certification, CTI

GRAHAM CHARLES

PRESIDENT
SENIOR POLAR GUIDE, SENIOR ASSESSOR

Graham is uniquely qualified for this role and merger of polar guiding and performance based vocational assessment. He has been assessing outdoor skills and teaching people how-to-teach for over 35 years and believes fully in the value of engaged testing.

Graham has been working/playing/expeditioning in the polar regions for over 20 years. He was part of New Zealand’s professional outdoor training and assessment scheme from its first day of inception in 1987 and has seen first hand the value of a structured testing, feedback and communications system that allows candidates to be fully accountable in the process of testing their own competence and judgment against a relevant industry syllabus.

He has a worked in training and assessment programs around the world as a developer, assessor and licensed trainer. Currently he runs the day to day operations of the PTGA, works free-lance as an Expedition Leader in the polar regions and with the Leadership School at Wharton Business School developing their expedition model of leadership training.

Polar Tourism Guides Association
  • Senior Assessor and Senior Polar Guide
    • New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association
      • Kayaking Stage II Instructor and Assessor
      • Rock climbing Stage II Instructor
      • Mountaineering Stage II Instructor
      Skills Active New Zealand
      • Work Place Assessor
      New Zealand Ski Patrol Association
      • Ski Patrol Ski Test
      Emergency Care - Pre Hospital Emergency Care revalidated per requirements since 1987 Whitewater New Zealand
      • Stage II Instructor and Assessor
      • River Rescue Instructor
      New Zealand Avalanche Institute
      • Stage II Safety Management
      • OSH Hand Charging and Explosives Certificate
      Experienced Based Training and Development Awards
      • DisC Personality Profile Accredited Trainer
      • New Zealand Association for Psychological Type - Qualifying program (Myers Briggs Personality Indicator)
      • Situational Leadership II Accredited Trainer
      • Building High Performing Teams Accredited
      • Raving Fans Customer Service
      • Project Adventure Safety Skills and Standards Workshop
      Search and Rescue
      • Mt Cook Rescue Team Training 1994
      • Team Leader Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation 1992 -1997
      • Search Co-ordinator RARO 1995-97
      • Joint Antarctic Search And Rescue Team member Scott Base

BRANDON HARVEY

SENIOR POLAR GUIDE

Over the past 20 years, Brandon has demonstrated his proficiency in developing the impeccable safety-standards, exceptional guest experiences, superior leadership training programs and engaging educational programming that are the cornerstones of his career.

Brandon began his career as a marine naturalist and captain of wildlife viewing tours in western Canada and has since spent the majority of his career exploring the remote polar regions. Brandon has participated on countless expeditions to the Southern Ocean, including the wildlife-rich and exceptionally scenic Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. Brandon has also explored vast areas of the Arctic with expeditions to Russia’s Chukotka Peninsula and Wrangel Island, Canadian High Arctic (including multiple Northwest Passage transits), East and West Greenland, Northern Norway and Svalbard. Staying true to his roots Brandon has multiple seasons exploring the wild coasts of British Columbia and southeast Alaska, with a focus on the Great Bear Rainforest and the Salish Sea.

The past decade has found Brandon directing operations for tourism operators, most recently as Operations Manager for award‐winning ecotourism company Maple Leaf Adventures, Director of Expedition Operations for Polar Latitudes and is currently Director of Expedition Operations & Program Development for EYOS Expeditions. Brandon also sits on the Board of Directors for the Polar Citizen Science Collective, as well as a company representative on several committees of IAATO/AECO. Brandon’s career has only served his passion for photography and videography, with multiple credits to his name. In addition, Brandon’s field expertise as a marine ecologist and environmental scientist is supported by a Master of Science in Environmental Practice.

  • Senior Polar Guide
    • Wilderness First Aid (50hr)
    • WCB Occupational First Aid Level 3
    • STCW Basic Safety Training - Security Awareness, Crowd Management, Marine First Aid
      • Transport Canada
      • Master Limited Captain 60 tonne (Passenger)
      • Small Vessel Machinery Operator (Restricted Engineer)
      • Small Vessel Operator Proficiency (SVOP)
      • Marine Medical
      • Other
      • Digital Radio Operators Cert. (ROC MC)
      • PADI Advanced Diver
      • Marine Emergency Duties Level A1/A2
      • SKGABC Assistant Overnight Sea Kayak Guide
      • Commercial Bear Viewing Guide – Assistant Guide
      • Canadian PAL Firearms Licence

DR ALEX COWAN

SECRETARY
SENIOR POLAR GUIDE

Alex has a PhD in earth sciences from the University of Cambridge. He has worked in polar tourism in the Arctic and Antarctic as an Expedition Leader and guide since 2011 for a variety of companies on a range of vessel sizes from 12 to 134 passengers. Prior to this career he worked as a professional yacht-master delivering vessels and training people to the RYA ‘Yachtmaster Offshore’ level. In 2014 he took part in the South Georgia Guideline Review of extended walks, acting as the IAATO representative. This gave him good insight into the GSGSSI view of tourism and need for industry standards for operating in this environment.

In 2018 he co-founded the Polar Citizen Science Collective, an organisation devoted to coordinating use of polar tour vessels for data collection and scientific research.

He is enthusiastic about training and skill development and this opportunity to merge his experience as a trainer and as a polar guide with what the PTGA has to offer. Alex is a passionate climber and skier and when not on ships can usually be found with skis or sticky rubber on his feet, and is currently working through the UK Mountain Training scheme.

  • Senior Polar Guide
  • PhD Earth Sciences
  • RYA Instructor

MARCUS WATERS


Marcus brings a valuable mix of business and strategy skills to the PTGA Board combined with a full understanding of the PTGA Assessment model. He has current involvement in the polar industry as the General Manager Commercial and Partnerships with the Antarctic Heritage Trust based in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Marcus’ early career was in outdoor education. With a passionate interest in human development this morphed into Management Training which lead to an MBA. Since then Marcus has spent the last twenty years in the Human Resource and Organisation Development industry. He has been an executive leader for large NZ businesses responsible for formulating business and HR strategy and operated in the safety sensitive Civil Construction and Electrical industries. He brings critical Board procedural experience and also currently sits on the Human Resources NZ Board (a 3000 person membership organisation that is the professional body for Human Resource practitioners in NZ) and is a Member of NZ’s Institute of Directors.

In 2019 Marcus changed course and took over his current role with the Antarctic Heritage Trust to create focused strategy and help grow and develop income streams. He was an Assessor with the NZ Outdoor Instructors Association for twenty years and held Level II Alpine, Rock and Bush awards. He has sea kayaked the length of the Antarctic Peninsula, circumnavigated Sth Georgia by sea kayak (see the display in Grytviken museum) and dragged a sled across Greenland. Marcus has love of wild and polar places and is keen to help businesses that operate in this space and could see the value of the governance skills he could offer the PTGA at this stage of development. Marcus is a keen skier and tramper and with his family gets out at every possible opportunity in the Canterbury mountains and back country.

 

 

DR KIM CROSBIE


Kim has been working in the polar regions since 1991.  Firstly, through the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge researching visitor management in the Canadian Arctic before changing focus to Antarctica. She spent three summers camping on Cuverville Is on the Antarctic Peninsula undertaking ecological monitoring and management of the landing site gathering baseline data for her PhD which, subsequently, was also used in the development of Site Guidelines for visitor landing sites in the Arctic, Antarctic and sub-Antarctic.

Dovetailing with her research, Kim worked as a guide and expedition leader in both polar regions for fifteen years for both tourist and film operations. She then moved “ashore” to spend 12 years with the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, as environmental director and subsequently executive director, working on the strategic development of Antarctic tourism management to support safe and environmentally responsible tourism.

Kim now Chairs the Boards of Noble Caledonia and Salén Ship Management and is a Trustee for the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and the Noble Caledonia Charitable Trust. She remains passionate about both the polar regions and in ensuring field guides are well equipped to fulfil their critical role in managing responsible visitor activities and ensuring first class experiences so that travellers to these regions return home as vocal supporters of these unique environments.